What the hell is it with the women on Fox News? Traditionally, female news broadcasters have dressed in a conservative fashion. But the women on Fox don't look like they belong in the office or the board room -- they look ready for a hot date.
I first noticed this trend last year, when I put together a video expose of a scammy group called the National Inflation Association; they literally had gold mines for sale. For some reason, Fox decided to hype these rascals on many of their shows. My video includes a clip from a Fox business program in which a news anchorette, dressed in the tightest of tight minidresses, interviews the group's alleged boss. That kind of skimpy outfit is a common sight on Fox business shows. Many conservatives seem delighted by such visuals -- or so I gathered from a survey of various right-wing websites.
You'd think that the audience would be more appreciative of someone like Peter Schiff, who, in a series of YouTube videos, found evidence that the NIA is a con job. Schiff probably wouldn't look nearly so fetching in a tight black minidress. But if you have money to invest, would you prefer to get advice from a vacuum-skulled Barbie dressed like an escort, or would you rather hear from someone who spent an hour or two doing actual research
Roger Ailes' network features a program called Fox and Friends, of which I've never been able to tolerate more than five minutes. The show seems to exist for the sole purpose of displaying the legs of the hostess. Here's
a sample "review" from a fan:
Fox News made a smart two day substitute hosting move on August 11th and 12th 2009 when they brought in sexy Dari Alexander to fill-in for Gretchen Carlson. And fill-in she did, in two stunning dresses showing off her legs and thighs. In the Dari Alexander photos collage you can see just how sexy Dari Alexander's legs truly are!
This nonsense offends even me
, and I'm a sexist pig in the eyes of some feminists.
There's a name for the network's policy: Fox Glam. You can read insider accounts about the look here
. Bottom line: Fox News wants any woman appearing on camera to go heavy (and I do mean heavy
) on the make-up, high on the hemlines and low on the cleavage.
As for Fox, suffice it to say that there is a YouTube montage devoted to leg shots of Fox anchors, who are often outfitted in body-hugging dresses of vibrant red and turquoise, their eyes enhanced by not only liner and shadow but also false lashes. A Fox regular once commented to me that she gets more calls from network management about her hair, clothes, and makeup than about what she says. “I just think of it as a uniform,” she said of her getup.
The media critic Jack Shafer adds that the women you see on Fox are not just winsome, lavishly cosmeticized women, but winsome women paired with older men. He says the network almost appears to be taking a page from the theory of evolutionary psychology, which argues that women are attracted to prosperous (often older) men, and these men are attracted to women whose youth and curves signal fertility. “
The men are kind of frumpy older men,” Sherman agrees, “paired with hyper-feminine women. That kind of kinetic energy between the sexes is one of the reasons Fox is successful. Oftentimes the older male hosts—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity—in the prime time, at night, are paired with women, debating politics, and the women are generally much younger … It almost goes back to 1940s Hollywood.”
That last remark isn't fair to 1940s Hollywood -- Rosalind Russell plays the epitome of female professionalism in His Girl Friday
, and Cary Grant was no-one's idea of a frumpy older man. But the larger point stands. A news show is not date night. I don't mind if a woman on cable teevee looks feminine, but there's a difference between "feminine" and "so-girly-it's-annoying."
Just now, I saw Alex Witt on MSNBC. Her approach seems sensible: Attractive, professional and dignified. Female television journalists should follow her lead.